Ran out of Norie pics at the moment, so here's Meagan.
1) The Bucs may have a 2-game winning streak going, but we got to remember these were games against teams coming into Tampa with a ton of off-field issues and on-field woes. Miami Dolphins with distractions involving bullying, Atlanta Falcons with injuries to key players and a bad year out of their QB Matty Ice.
Yes, it looked nice watching the Bucs dominate for roughly three quarters, and that they genuinely kept the engine revving into the Second Half for the first time all season. But this isn't saving Schiano's hide for three key reasons:
1a) The Bucs DID go ultra conservative by the Fourth Quarter, allowing the Falcons a serious opportunity to get back into the game.
1b) The Bucs STILL have a troubling problem with high-level penalties like late hits, helmet to helmet hits, and dumb personal fouls. This lack of discipline on-field is gonna kill the Bucs against teams that can cash in on those.
1c) The Bucs looked unready to handle fake punts even after trying to pull off a fake punt of their own, and looked woefully unprepared to stop 2-point conversions. WHO THE HELL LEAVES TE GONZALEZ OPEN LIKE THAT.
2) That said, this was actually a game where Schiano looked to be opening up the playbook. A lot. Makes you wonder where the hell this all was back in September...
3) Player of the Game: DAMN but I got a lot of BALLS to give out. On the top of the list is RB Bobby Rainey. Busted free behind great run blocking in the First Half to roll off a 52-yard running TD, ended up with 163 yards rushing, 1 passing TD reception, and 3 TDs total. If you had him for your Fantasy League, you gotta be grinning like a ghost right about now.
3a) DT Gerald McCoy started this game with sack, sack, sack, racking up so many that fans were hoping for an 8-sack day. While he eventually cooled down, he still brought a ton of pressure and had a pass blocked at the line that screamed YOU AIN'T PLAYING THIS SH-T IN MY HOUSE, RYAN.
3b) LB Mason Foster: all he does is run back INTs for Pick-6 touchdowns. Sad thing, he got knocked out later that quarter with a concussion. He might miss next week's game...
3c) Thank God our other linebackers are good. LaVonte David is still racking up tackles, Jonathan Casillas was in on enough plays to prove a decent impact, and Dakota Watson got a BLOCKED PUNT in the Third Quarter that helped the Bucs secure a 38-6 lead and made everyone feel like the Second Half Choke wasn't gonna come.
3d) S Dashon Goldson got flagged for another really stupid helmet hit penalty - that might not have even been flag-worthy - but he redeemed himself later on with genuine tackling contributions in the Fourth Quarter, a forced fumble that Mark Barron recovered, and an INT that made Matt Ryan have a really bad day.
3e) WR Vincent Jackson may have problems catching slant passes with both hands, but he can catch those deep throws single-handed just fine. DAMN THAT WAS SWEET. It looks as though QB Mike Glennon and his Number One Receiver is getting in sync to make those deep throws work.
3f) While Adrian Clayborn didn't have any sacks, he brought serious pressure a lot of times and contributed to helping keep the Falcons' running attack bottled up for three Quarters.
3g) QB Glennon had his most accurate game of the year, making 20 of 23 for 231 Yards and 2 TD passes.
3h) One reason why RB Rainey and QB Glennon had great days: the offensive line showed up, getting good running lanes early on and giving Glennon enough time in the pocket to work.
3j) FB Erik Lorig contributed a lot to making key blocks all game long. If he had been healthy when Doug Martin was at the start of the season, I seriously thinking we've have won a few of the early games just on Martin getting 50-yard TD runs in the late minutes in 2-3 of those games.
4) Statistics of the Game: Turnovers. Once again the Bucs lead with turnovers - 2 INTs and one fumble - without making any turnovers of their own. Throw in stopping teams on 4th down, and blocking punts, you've got the Bucs at 5 to 1 ratio. THIS TIME, the Bucs won. The turnovers were key: Bucs got 17 points off the official turnovers.
4a) Penalties: Bucs got tabbed for 11 penalties for 121 yards, for 11 yards per penalty (they squared the number 11!). Those are a LOT of major infractions walked off, and Atlanta got 7 first downs out of penalties, equal to the number they made from run plays.
4b) Rushing yards: Bucs gave up 152 yards, but the stat is misleading. RB Antone Smith garnered 88 yards (1 TD) on just two run plays! Those came in the final minutes of the game, when the defense shifted to a passive pass zone and wasn't prepared for any run play BOTH TIMES. One of the reasons why the coaching is still suspect: the coaches were only expecting pass both times. Take away those two runs, Atlanta had 64 yards on the ground.
And it's a fault of the Atlanta coaches that they didn't stick to run plays earlier. RB Steven Jackson was making some major breakout runs of his own, but the Falcons didn't keep giving him the ball to give Matt Ryan more help.
5) If the fans got pumped for this game, it was the surprising number of trick plays Schiano and staff pulled out of the playbook. A fake punt (which didn't work), fake FG (also didn't work) letting the RBs throw on some pass plays, direct snaps to RB Brian Leonard, and going for an onsides kick in the Second Quarter that DID work and led to the first TD of the game for Tampa Bay.
Schiano was showing an aggressive coaching style that had been lacking for much of the season. It was a serious uptick from some of the trickery he pulled out against Miami last Monday. Either he's gotten very desperate, or someone's given him a lecture or two to loosen up.
Pity he still went into College Conservative Calling Mode in the Fourth Quarter looking to sit on a 2-TD lead, when in this Pro league you don't let up until you get 3 TDs and a FG (24 points) over your opponent. Falcons got back into the game, which had the fans (okay, except for Draft Phantom, who has achieved a Zen balance with the universe) screaming about another Late Game Choke.
6) In other NFL news: Jacksonville is now the sole owner of the overall draft spot. TANKING FOR TEDDY.
6a) Chicago seems to have bad weather from November onward. I wonder if they should have gone with a retractable dome at Soldier Field.
6b) Don't look, but Oakland might have a half-decent team to ruin other team's hopes. I doubt they can get a wild card considering the severe AFC West competition, but it's serious.
6c) Philadelphia didn't rack up points but did win with a solid gameplan. Currently the one team in the NFC East to look good enough to make the postseason with a winning record.
6d) Just when you think Detroit's turned the corner for good into being a decent team, they get pummeled. I don't think they'll be in a good mood when the Bucs arrive next week.
6e) To Washington, Minnesota, Houston and Atlanta fans, thinking you were gonna have good teams this year. Ah, well. Sorry about that.
7) In NBA news, who cares? Tampa doesn't have a basketball team, so what? Never mind it.
8) In NHL news, Tampa Bay finally lost a game against a Western conference team, otherwise the Bolts are looking like serious playoff contenders for top seed and maybe another shot at the Stanley Cup. Sweeeeeeet.
9) In baseball news, the Atlanta Braves are giving up on a recent stadium built FOR THEM in 1996, barely 20 years old, and are scamming a county into building them a SHINIER expensive stadium 28 miles outside of the city. Jesus, will the extortion never end? Can't the Braves find their OWN money to build this? Why not renovate a working stadium? Why not avoid wasting millions of dollars that could go into schools and local transit and city improvements?!
10) Next up: Tampa travels to Detroit.